Dr. Sharron Hinchcliff of the University of Sheffield's School of Nursing and Midwifery and her research team interviewed a group of British women about their menopause experience and assessed whether they had experienced change in sexual activity and satisfaction.
Almost all of the women said they experienced some form of change, but these were external changes, not biological changes -- changes described during menopause included providing care for a relative, a partner's exhibiting low sexual desire and the quality of the relationship with their partner -- while some noticed biological factors such as perceived changes in hormone levels.
"Our study has examined the influence of psychosocial factors on sexual activity during the menopause to provide a new perspective on the increasingly medicalized view of this time of life," Hinchcliff says in a statement.
"Biological research tends to report the negative impact of declining hormone levels on women's ability to engage in and enjoy sexual activities, whereas our study found that some women actually saw an increase in sexual desire during this time. By highlighting this variability, we hope to challenge the perspectives that treat women as a homogeneous group or which regard the menopause as an event that will affect all women´s sexuality in the same way."
The findings are published in the Journal of Health Psychology.